Mexico is seen as a heavenly country by many people. Its turquoise sea, white sandy beaches, and year-round sunshine largely contribute to such a flattering title. Lately, Americans have been leaving their homes and making the move to Playa del Carmen. Continue reading
This will be the final article in a series of “Things you need to know before moving to Mexico: Adjusting to your new lifestyle”
In this segment we will be talking about adjusting to a new lifestyle after moving to Mexico. Saying goodbye to your old life and hello to a new chapter can sometimes take a little time. After finding a new home and settling in, getting familiar with your surroundings and meeting new people can be a bit frightening.
In the beginning, taking baby steps leads to long and very rewarding strides. Don’t be afraid to go out during the day and explore your new neighborhood. Try shopping at a few local markets for your fruits and vegetables. If you live in town, there are a variety of grocery stores to choose from and yes, there is a Walmart. Shopping is actually a great resource to find other expats roaming the aisles. Don’t be afraid to go up and nonchalantly introduce yourself as being new to the community.
When cruising up and down the streets of Playa del Carmen, walk into places like salons or barber shops and get a feel for the stylist. Check out several medical and dental offices and speak with the physician and dentist. It is always a good idea to establish a local doctor. Ask about their fee schedules and hours. Doing this is the norm in Mexico and is expected. Especially in a place like Playa, where there is an extremely large expat community that also had to adapt to a new lifestyle.
Some of the most likely places to meet people are the local cafes, restaurants and bar & grills. Even if you don’t indulge in adult spirits, just order up your favorite beverage and strike up a conversation with other North Americans. We have found that these types of establishments are an easy way to develop friends and/or casual acquaintances. You can also get online and find out where many of the North Americans or expats frequent. Another good way to get to know people is by joining a church. There are several around Playa del Carmen that worship in English.
If you participated with an organization like the Kiwanis, Rotary or other international clubs back in the states, then there are probably extensions of them here in Mexico as well. The ‘Seaside Rotary Club’ is a very active association and could be another way of meeting other transplants. Meeting people is the quickest way to get acclimated to the area and have it start to feel like you are part of the community. You might want to consider joining an expat lunch or dinner club. Go online and search social media sites like Facebook or Twitter for more information.
Getting to know the town of Playa del Carmen and its people really isn’t any different than doing the same thing back in the United States. The Mexican people are very friendly and willing to help in any way they can. It will be a little awkward in the beginning. You might at one time or another second guess your reasons for moving abroad. But when things do start to fall in place and you adapt to your new surroundings, you will wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. Choosing a new lifestyle is always a good idea!
“Settling in and finding your perfect home in Mexico”
After moving to Mexico and starting your new life, getting settled in will take a few weeks or possibly months. Looking for your first real home in Mexico will require you to search out an area that you feel works best for you and any accompanying companions. Talk with your Top Mexico realtor regarding your wants and needs. They will show you properties that will fit within your criteria.
It is very easy to get lost in the moment, especially in an unfamiliar environment and culture. Steady yourself and try to understand that selecting a home in a foreign country is much different than in the United States. It is highly advisable to spend a month or two renting in an area that you could be considering. Get to know what is available in the neighborhood. Establish communication with a few of the locals and most of all, make sure it fits your lifestyle.
After getting comfortable with your surroundings and you are ready to take the next step, here are several basic options to consider when purchasing a home in Mexico:
- Discuss what your likes and dislikes are with your agent regarding your current neighborhood. They may have similar communities that could fill any voids you may have.
- You need to decide if a stand-alone home or condo best suits your needs. Take into consideration if you have pets, children and/or how much attention you want to give to yard care and/or pool.
- Be specific on your desired layout including number of bedrooms, baths and overall floor plan.
- Do you want to be close to everything? Do you enjoy your privacy? How close to the beach or jungle do you want to be?
- Tell your agent what your budget is and if there is any flexibility to it. Don’t forget to add any HOA fees if looking at complexes or gated communities.
Playa del Carmen has plenty of surrounding communities and neighboring towns that have lots of new developments. Buying new construction does have its benefits. You can select your own colors, fixtures and in some cases, make minor changes to the floor plan. Preconstruction sales can also offer discounts that can equate to more bang for your buck. Your agent should have insight regarding new construction going on or planned in your desired area.
If you like a particular area and there really isn’t any current developments happening, there might be some new – unsold homes/condos not listed yet. Sometimes there are some finished properties that the sale(s) have fallen through and will be back on the market. Developers want to quickly unload them so they can move on to other projects. Again, your real estate agent can help you locate these types of homes/condos.
There are always plenty of well-built and establish homes/condos throughout the area. If you are somewhat open on a style and floor plan, there is a wide variety of inventory to choose from. Most of them come furnished, updated and turnkey. All you have to do is add bits and pieces of your own personality and ‘voilà’, you have a home! Buying in an established community can offer mature landscape, plenty of added amenities, and neighbors who can lend a helping hand getting you settled into your new neighborhood. This is a good recommendation when moving to Mexico.
No matter if you choose a home or condo, it will be the beginning of your new life. The tropical weather, beautiful Caribbean water brushing against white sand beaches, the swaying palms, and a lower cost of living will pamper anyone’s dream of utopia. You are almost there. Reach out and grab ahold of a piece of paradise. You will not regret moving to Mexico!
The third in a series of topics: “What to do with your current home and belongings”
Before retiring and moving to Mexico from your present homestead, lots of difficult decisions will need to be made. One of many is what to do with all your worldly possessions. If this includes owning a property, you need to decide if you are going to sell, rent or keep it for when you visit family and friends. I would suggest to sell it, especially if you are looking at purchasing a home in Mexico.
If you’re moving to Mexico and you make the decision to sell your current home, then hiring a good realtor should be on the top of your list of ‘things to do’. Having a “to do list” is another highly recommended element for a successful relocation. Once you find a qualified buyer, then the real work begins. But first, you will need to place your proceeds from the sale of your property into an account that will guarantee easy accessibility. When you arrive in Mexico and your dream home suddenly appears and falls directly into your lap, your money will need to be readily accessible.
The time has come for you to choose what or what not to keep. This includes, but is not limited to furniture, housewares and other miscellaneous items. Economically speaking, shipping furniture abroad usually doesn’t have any financial advantages. If you have any heirlooms of substantial size, it is recommended to pass them onto family members. You will most likely want to purchase stylish furniture that will coordinate with your newly acquired Mexico home.
Many of your kitchen ware and cooking aids that you are currently using in the United States aren’t always readily available in Mexico. So keep this in mind when selecting certain items like specialized utensils, thermometers, and pots and pans. I would suggest to pack and ship most of these types of things. But don’t go overboard by taking everything including the kitchen sink! If you have taken the time to shop in or around the Playa del Carmen area, you should have a good idea what is available.
If you are moving from a multi seasonal climate and have an abundance of cold weather clothing, leave it at home or get rid of it all together. Playa del Carmen has two temperatures and they are warm and hot. Heavy footwear or boot type shoes are also not necessary. A pair of tennis shoes, casual dress shoes, and plenty of flip flops and sandals are the norm. If you do get chilled in weather that dips slightly below 80 degrees, then a light hoody will be more than adequate for those ‘cooler’ tempered nights.
There are always a few knick knacks, personal pictures and crafty hobby materials that mean more than life to you. If they fit into a suitcase and stay within the given weight limit, then pack it and take them with you. You will probably have a surplus of inventory that needs to be transported. Take time to decide which items have first priority and take them on the first go ‘round. Usually 4 to 5 pieces of luggage per trip are manageable. Most people normally have to return back to the states for one reason or another. During this second trip, have your remaining items either boxed up or in suitcases and bring them back with you. Always check with your airline to be sure you know the exact size and weight limits. Just don’t stand there, get packing! Your new life is waiting for you!
Don’t forget to read our second series of topics “Making sure all your paperwork is in order”
We were honored to get the chance to sit down and chat with Kay Walten, the founder of the well-known website locogringo.com which is geared towards providing private vacation rentals and knowledge for travelers. Kay Walten, originally from Buffalo, New York, has been living in Akumal and in the Riviera Maya for 21 years now which makes her a very reputable source for expat related information, and true advisor for travelers coming to the Riviera Maya.
Kay moved to the Riviera Maya in 1992 to explore the underground cenotes and caves. Kay and her now husband, Gary Walten, ran dive tours and eventually opened up a dive shop until starting Locogringo in 1996.
Locogringo.com provides vacation rentals by private owners wishing to rent out their home. Through many years of service, Kay and her husband have become one of the most credible sources for vacation rentals and area advice.
Why is she so good at it? Because she loves living in Akumal, and holds a dear passion for the Riviera Maya; which she has watched grow and expand over the last 21 years. What was once an area with not so many people has become a world renowned vacation destination, retirement paradise and an investor’s dream.
Over the years the Riviera Maya has grown to satisfy many American style conveniences. These days culture shock is not so deep in the Riviera Maya. Many people speak English; you can find familiar products or brands and even shop at the same stores you are used to shopping at!
Kays thoughts about safety in the Riviera Maya!
Kay would like to send the message that the Riviera Maya is safe! After 20 years of living in Akumal Mexico, she has only experienced great things and friendly people. Kay Quotes “It’s really a joyful area to live in”.
How does Kay feel about buying property in the Riviera Maya?
As a home owner in Akumal, Kay feels that the real estate buying process in Mexico is getting easier and easier. There are many people coming to retire and buy property! The advice that she gives, is to work with a reputable realtor in Mexico, pay close attention to all the paperwork, and of course, to be smart and use common sense!
In this Top Mexico Real Estate video Kay tells us about life in the Riviera Maya and some of the wonderful experiences she has had living in Akumal all these years! Watch the video for a full interview!
Expats living in Mexico will almost invariably feel confident in the safety of the place where they live; being here in person allows people to experience first hand that life here is safe.
Yet many expats also want the experience of traveling to other parts of the country. Those who aren’t expats yet (but are planning on it) will want to know which areas are statistically safe.
For these purposes, the US Department of State’s “Clear for Travel” list is useful. I approve of this list, because it let’s people know that many parts of Mexico are safe for travel, and serves as a beginning of a balance to the negative travel advisories lists that have gained so much attention. (I also approve of the travel advisories list – people need to know where they shouldn’t go, too!)
As far as I know, this list isn’t exhaustive; if a place isn’t listed here, that doesn’t mean it’s not safe. These are just the most frequently visited places that have been given a definite “clear.” So if the place you’re thinking of visiting is not listed here, do some extra research before stroking it of your list.
CITIES CLEAR FOR TRAVEL
The follow tourist cities and places continue to have no warning or advisories in effect:
Baja California Sur: No advisory is in effect.
Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, La Paz, Todos Santos, Isla Espiritu Santo, Loreto, Laguna San Ignacio, Magdelena Bay
Campeche: No advisory is in effect.
Campeche City, Calakmul, Edzna
Chiapas: No advisory is in effect.
San Cristobal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Comitán, Tapachula, Palenque, Yaxchilán, Bonampak, Toniná, Sumidero Canyon, San Juan Chamula, Zinacantan
Guanajuato: No advisory is in effect.
Guanajuato City, Leon, San Miguel de Allende
Acapulco, Taxco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa
Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Tequila
Distrito Federal: No advisory is in effect.
Mexico City (Polanco, Santa Fe, San Angel, Coyoacan, La Condesa, Chapultepec Park, Bascilica de Guadalupe, Historic Center, Zócalo, Xochimilco, Teotihuacan, Templo Mayor, Bellas Artes)
Riviera Nayarit, Nuevo Vallarta, Punta de Mita, Sayulita, Bucerias
Oaxaca: No advisory is in effect.
Oaxaca City, Sierra Norte, Monte Alban, Mitla, Teotitlán del Valle, San Bartolo de Coyotepec, San Martin Tilcajete, Cuilápam de Guerrero, Tlacolula, Huatulco, Puerto Escondido
Puebla: No advisory is in effect.
Puebla City, San Andres Cholula, San Pedro Cholula
Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.
Queretaro City, Bernal
Quintana Roo: No advisory is in effect.
Cancun, Riviera Maya, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Mayakoba, Akumal, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Aventuras, Cozumel, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Xpu-Ha
Tabasco: No advisory is in effect.
Yucatan: No advisory is in effect.
Merida, Chichen Itza, Isla Holbox, Ek Balam, Valladolid, Izmal, Uxmal
*There are advisories in effect for the state. The listed cities are okay for travel but you should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.
There are many safe places to live in Mexico, and even more great (and safe) places to travel to.
On Thursday, The Huffington Post has a great article about what to do if you are in love with Mexico and planning on retiring here, but your wife (or husband) does not. Here’s an excerpt with the main points of advice:
1. Involve them in the planning.
This is a big decision. And it deserves careful thought and planning by all involved. Talk, talk and talk some more about it. Make sure you’re both as informed as possible and involved in the decisions about where to move, how to live, and so on. Spend time together and separately, perusing online forums and other resources. If your motivation is economic, make sure you both understand what’s going on with your financial situation.
2. Compromise with a “no strings attached” test drive.
Nothing is scarier than cutting the ties completely. If your partner is reluctant to do that, consider giving the new life a test drive. Before you sell your house or buy that one-way ticket, rent an apartment in the new locale for three months or more.
3. Don’t sugarcoat the challenges.
Discuss the difficulties you’ll face along the way, and work together on solutions. For instance, you may want to take some foreign language classes before your move. Try out voice- and video-over-internet (VOIP) technologies so you can easily stay in touch with family and friends. If you’re retiring, do some budget planning. There will still be unexpected challenges, but by working together, problem-solving can be part of the fun.
4. Help ease the transition.
Once you’ve moved, take an active approach to learning as much about your new community as you can. Be sure your partner has an opportunity to meet other expats and locals with similar interests. These days, you can do this in advance of your move through online blogs, forums, and websites. And keep busy — this is the perfect opportunity for you both to try something new. Fortunately, in most expat communities, you’ll find your new social life is more active — and more enjoyable — than ever.
5. Remember that attitude is everything. When challenges do arise, maintain your sense of humor and look on the bright side: this experience will likely strengthen your relationship. (And it will give you great stories to tell later.) So support one another and make a point to have as much fun as possible on this adventure.
The writer than goes on to address the question; after all that, what happens if he/she doesn’t fall “in love with Mexico? Well, don’t think of your move as a one-way ride or as the last move you’ll ever make — if it doesn’t work out, you can always move on or even go back home.”
I would just add that you can always do the snowbird plan (winters here – summers there) or move back and forth. You’re retired after all!
-by Thomas Lloyd